When you have too many toys, it’s difficult to keep your house tidy, and if you’re anything like me, that causes anxiety. So I want to give you some actionable steps to declutter.
But first, we have to address the WHY. Why do we have so many toys? We get hand-me-downs. We get things from neighbors, friends, or family that aren’t exactly wanted. Your kid has an interest in something and then loses interest and we forget to remove those toys from the pile. You keep sentimental toys in the playroom.
Listen, I get it. Having kids of different ages and interests makes wrangling all the toys seem like a big, scary task. You can totally do it, though.
You need to do this because having fewer toys is actually better for kids. When kids have too many toys, they don’t know what to play with. If they have fewer toys, it’s easier to make decisions and they’ll practice that life skill (or executive functioning skill, if you want to be fancy). By doing this with toys now, your kids will be able to apply that skill throughout their lives.
Set your goal
The first thing you need to do is set your goal. Do you want to take back your house? We have a neighbor who wanted to take back their sunroom. Do you want your living room back? Do you want all toys in the basement? Do you just want fewer toys? What does that look like? Make it specific so you know when you’re done.
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How to start decluttering too many toys
I suggest starting by collecting all the toys and dumping them all in one place. I know this can be super overwhelming and scary, but it is the most efficient way to declutter your toys. Pick a spot in your house where you have a lot of open floor space. Grab your kids, and ask them to collect all the toys in the house and put them in that spot. Unless your kids are toddlers, you’ll want them involved. This process of decluttering will help them as much as having fewer toys.
Categorize the toys
Come up with 8-10 categories. We have 9 categories including Legos, Magna tiles, cars + trucks, action figures, art, dress up, sports, and dolls. Keep them broad (for example, the category could be broadly dolls instead of specifically Barbies). It helps a lot to observe your kids and notice what they play with.
Tip: You might have similar types of toys for different age kids. you can have two bins, for example, for big cars and small cars.
Declutter and sort too many toys
Go through and decide what to keep, throw away, and donate. (If you can’t donate right now, just keep it in a box in your garage. Please don’t just drop it off at Goodwill if they’re closed and not accepting donations.)
If you have 10 categories, get 10 bins. On each bin put a sticker or label so it’s clear to everyone. Then sort. As they’re sorting, they can decide if they really want to keep it. They’ll find things as they’re going through that they don’t care about anymore. Give each kid a specific category (and YOU TOO) so they know exactly what they’re looking for. Once you think you’ve gotten everything in one category, move on. Once you’ve sorted all your categories, look at the remaining pile on the floor. You likely don’t need to keep those toys. Donate them.
If it’s easier, sort first and then declutter. Put everything in bins, and then dump out one bin at a time.
Note: As you’re gathering, sorting, and decluttering, you may come across sentimental toys. I talked about creating memory boxes in another blog post, and that’s where these sentimental toys should go. Their favorite book, their favorite blanket, the cute hat they wore home from the hospital–they’re safer in a memory box. They won’t get lost or broken or carelessly played with.
Keep up with your newly streamlined toys
Keeping up with your newly streamlined toy collection is not easy. It will take consistent management and change of habits. Start by limiting what comes into your house and find ways to store everything.
Next, don’t buy into fads. I’ve seen so many toys that have come and gone. Let your kids have a few, see if they’re still interested, and then give them more for birthdays, Christmas, for doing chores… etc.
Finally, Limit your own toys and spending. When your kids see you buy all the toys, they’re going to get the idea that they can ask for them too because they don’t understand the difference between need and want. Teach them patience and show them how they can work hard and use their own money to buy the things they want.